Office of Government Relations

Tell Congress to Help Avert Humanitarian Disaster

August 15, 2012
Office of Government Relations

Your help is needed in urging the U.S. government to intervene in order to save critical funding for Al Ahli hospital, a unique healthcare institution in the Gaza Strip managed by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Last week, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced, without public justification, that it has terminated all financial assistance to the hospital, which is the largest and most capable provider of primary and emergency healthcare to the 2 million residents of the Gaza Strip, who already live with as much humanitarian devastation as any people on earth. The hospital, which also receives a small amount of funding from the U.S. government, cares for nearly 50,000 people each year. It has received funding from UNRWA since 1994, and last year, that funding constituted approximately $1 million of the hospital's $2.4 million annual budget. The loss of this funding is a full-blown emergency for the suffering people of Gaza: it threatens to decimate the operations of the hospital and have devastating effects on healthcare across the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led 106 Episcopal bishops from 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in writing to President Obama to ask that he intervene personally with the relevant UN agencies to ensure the reversal of this misguided decision. While UNRWA is facing funding cuts of its own, ending support to Al Ahli Hospital is not the answer. There is no other healthcare provider in all of Gaza with the excellence in technical and professional skill, and the commitment to providing care to all on such a wide level, as Al Ahli. As the bishops explained in their letter to the President, the hospital is the only healthcare institution in the Gaza Strip not run by the Hamas government, and "as such, it is able to provide care without any outside interference or political calculation. Its continued operation thus is in the inherent interests of the United States government." To read the bishops' full letter, which provides additional background information about the situation, please click here.

We're asking you to take two important actions to address this emergency:

  1. Share the bishops' letter with your Senators and Representative, asking lawmakers communicate their support to the President for working with UNRWA to reverse this indefensible decision. It is important that lawmakers see the breadth of American support for the Gaza hospital, both from the 105 bishops who signed the letter, and from EPPN members from across the country. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers.
  2. Prayerfully consider a donation to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, who are working with Bishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican (Episcopal) Bishop in Jerusalem, on an emergency appeal for funds to keep the hospital running as we seek to persuade UNRWA to reverse its decision.

The Office of Government Relations